Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

On the trading room floor

I was listening to the post-post game show on WGN radio this past Friday night, when a caller asked about trades. The show’s host Judd Sirott, said that everyone is looking to get a Center or a Defenseman.

Well, yeah, except when they’re looking for a goaltender. And as the trading deadline approaches we’ll start seeing teams trying to get that second goalie who can spell their star, or who will be looking for some fresh talent to try out in goal as the season slams head-first into the playoffs.

A couple of caveats about trades: You have to have something worth trading, and you have to want what’s offered up in compensation. That said, there are times a GM who thought he wasn’t in the trading pool gets the “phone call” and something comes out of the blue. And for some reason, Dean Lombardi is in the picture somewhere….

The San Jose Sharks appear to be back into “don’t worry—we’ll make more!” mode in their goaltending depth, to the point where they have Niittymaki playing for the Ducks AHL affiliate in Syracuse. If there’s something out there the Sharks want, and they’re always interested in draft picks, expect Niittymaki to be gone by the trade deadline.

The rest of the league, well, that gets interesting.  I’m not a big believer in the “we have two good goalies, so one must be traded!” school of thought, since we’re playing hockey here, and not Highlander. So I’d leave Schneider in Vancouver until the season is over, and Vancouver can spend more time to look at their options.

In Alberta, Kiprusoff keeps setting records while the rest of Calgary tries to figure out what to do. Edmonton might be willing to trade Khabibulin, but there’s a lot of GMs out there wondering who would show up between the pipes next season, whether they would necessarily want that, and how much are they willing to pay.

The pleasant surprise of the NHL season, St Louis, is getting it done with Elliot and Halak, so there won’t be any moves to mess with the chemistry. Ben Bishop, currently playing for the Peoria Rivermen, keeps being touted as possible trade bait. The question there is whether there’s anything JD wants badly enough to trade Bishop. I’d like to see if the new and improved Blues can bring up a goalie through the system and have him stick with the parent club. However, at 25 Bishop is at the prime “make a deal” age for some other team needing goaltending talent, so he may fetch a good deal. The question is whether he’d fetch more in June than in February.

I don’t see Detroit moving on goaltending, either, no matter screams of anguish that the Red Wings must find a goaltender right now, or all was lost. Howard will be back this week, and the Wings are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games. Since the Wings aren’t going to play against the Islanders in the finals this year, I don’t see a problem.

The Blackhawks don’t need a goaltending change—they need an exorcist.

The three leaders in the east, Boston, New York, and Florida, aren’t seriously in the market for another goaltender, and they aren’t overflowing with riches, either. Philadelphia, while playing with a goaltending duo who seem to have shipped in from the next reality over, are somehow in 4th place in the eastern conference.  Leighton could go somewhere else if the price was right. The Islanders have their hooks into Nabokov, and the Sabres hope that the week off is what Ryan Miller really needed.

Both Ottawa and Toronto have the problem of hot and cold running goalies, and a patch job isn’t going to help either in the long run.

And in New Jersey, Martin Brodeur reached way in the back of his locker and found one more bottle of goalie rejuv. Let’s hope it’s not past the shelf-date.

So, what’s going to happen on trade deadline day? I see 1-2 goalies getting traded, some oh whom will make the interns at the various sports reporting franchises run to their NHL guides, and a whole bunch of tap-dancing at the TSN desk!

Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: goalies, goaltenders, nhl, trades


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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!